Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park is BLM/American River Conservancy joint administered land. Former ranch land that is multi-use: mountain bikes, equestrian, and hikers, although I did not see any bicycles today. The horseback riders I saw today were having a loud "top this story" conversation detailing all the negative encounters they'd had with 'cyclists.
So I think the bikes have mostly gone elsewhere these days. During the summer, rafters/kayakers use it as a lunch stop since the property runs down to the South Fork American River.
The dog and I left the trailhead at 8:20am: 37 degrees, calm, bright sunny skies.
Returned about 3 hours later: 64 degrees, very slight breeze, bright sunny skies.
We went just 5 miles - spent about an hour loafing around, stopping to chat, fixing my shoes, snapping some pics, and so on. My knees were fine (yay!) and my middle-aged dog is doing OK so far this afternoon.
I love morning hikes and lens flare effects!
To get an idea of the scale of the country out here, look about 1/6th of the way in from the right side, and about 1/4 of the way from the bottom in the photo below. That little bitty white dot just above a line of scrub is someone out with her dog.
While I was out, I took the opportunity to try out some new ideas and revisit some old ones.
I started off in my Chaco Z2 sandals, with Injinji cool max liner socks. At my turn around point by the river, I changed into regular Injinji cool max socks and my Inov8 trail shoes. I like both shoes, although I prefer my Chacos because they have infinite toe-room. I think if I had brought a clean pair of liner socks, I would have just kept the Chacos on. However, socks covered in red dust and plant bits (I did a little off-roading) are No Fun! I think I pulled three different kinds of stickers out of them.
At the turnaround point, I also switched from a new hat - Sunday Afternoons' Adventure Hat - to an umbrella. It took me a while to get the umbrella adjusted so it was not resting on top of my head, but once I got it sorted out, I really liked it.
Although the Sunday Afternoon hat is a lot lighter than my Tilly T4, it still prevents some breeze from getting to my poor sweaty head. And even at 64 degrees, I sweat.
I am using Camelbak tube-traps to hold the shaft of the umbrella and will get a bunch more traps and stick them on both shoulder straps - then I can quickly switch the umbrella from one side to the other. I've decided on a reflective coated umbrella (Like GoLite/Birdiepal), I just need to decide if I want a collapsible or fixed shaft model.
You can see the shape of my umbrella, at least, here.
Another thing I tried was keeping my borrowed trekking poles at a fixed length of 105cm. That worked fine - up and down hill - so I'll probably be getting a pair of backpackinglight's Light Stix poles. I'm too lazy to adjust the poles while I'm hiking along so the adjustable nature of most poles means more weight and more things to break!
The hat and my Chacos strapped to my Molly Mac Pack. The striped umbrella is sticking out from under the pack. The pack is hanging on a trekking pole.
I like the Molly Mac Pack very much for day hiking. The natural compartmentalization that comes from stuff sacks strapped to a panel has an additional benefit. I loaded everything, including the water bladder, up last night and left the pack sitting on my ironing board. I had not noticed that the bite valve of the bladder was stuck under something, so the cover of the board was soaked but the waterproof nature of the pack panel kept most of my stuff from soaking up any water.
When I got down to the river, I discovered that the picnic tables were gone (for the season? for good? who knows - budget affecting everything out here). Fortunately, I'd brought a hammock with me. I could not find perfect trees, but I was able to hang it as a sort of a butt-squeezing seat. OK for half an hour or so, but not long term. It was good enough to let me sit, change shoes, eat a snack, and relax for a bit.
While I was loafing, I helped out a runner who had completely lost track of where the parking lot was. Maps are Good!
I also chatted with a guy who was out hunting quail (he was having no luck).
I have become very fond of my gear loft, but it was on my other hammock. So I improvised one using my hat and tossed my snacks and the dog's snacks in there for easier loafing deployment.
While sorting out these photos, I realized that this is my fourth hike out there in the last couple of years. It is brutally hot in the summer - even in May, but it makes perfect winter hiking.